Chemistry, Environment and Health 
Home Teaching Research People Laboratory Publications Links

Wastewater Treatment Pharmaceuticals
Environmental Mornitoring Chemistry of Wine Flavour


Treatment of Harmful Chemicals in Wastewater
Without proper treatment, discharges of wastewater containing toxic chemicals pose great risks to the environment and human health. We are looking for treatment solutions of environmental contaminants. One of our primary techniques is membrane bioreactor (MBR). In this technique, a porous membrane is used to separate the influent and the effluent. Water molecules can permeate through the membrane, while suspended particles, microorganism and macro-organic molecules are retained in the bioreactor. Various aerobic and anaerobic bacteria thrive in the bioreactor and effectively break down all kinds of organic substances.  In this research program, we investigate the biodegradation of toxic xenobiotic organic compounds (XOCs) using the MBR technique. Online sensors for water quality monitoring are also under development.


Phamaceuticals Around Us

Pharmaceuticals are designed to have physiological effects in target organisms, but they may have adverse effects on other non-target humans and organisms. Pharmaceuticals are released into the environment through human excretion, agricultural run-off, and wastewater from sewage treatment plants (STPs) and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Studies have shown that between 30 to 90% of the dose of a pharmaceutical is excreted through urine or feces as the active substance. We study the presence, fates and impacts of top-prescribed drugs in municipal STP effluents and receiving waters. Further, we are measuring bacterial resistance of antibiotics and finding ways to mitigate the issue.  


Organic Environmental Contaminants

The health of Canadians depends critically on the quality of water supplies and the quality of ambient air. Using advanced techniques, this research program focuses on identification and quantification of emerging organic contaminants including pesticides, BPA and petroleum hydrocarbons. We are developing new analytical methods for sample preparation, chromatographic separation, and mass spectrometric detection. These methods are calibrated and validated based on the strictest industrial standards, ISO17025. 

Wine Flavour Analysis
Every wine has its unique flavour pattern that is defined by a variety of  fermentative compounds, such as alcohols, aromatics, esters, terpenes, nitrogen compounds, acids and lactones. Variation of their relative amounts in wine changes its taste. The composition of wine is influenced by a number of factors such as soil quality, vintage, grape species, ripening, aging, blending, and enological practices.With an advanced analytical infrastructure, accurate analytical protocols are being developed to characterize the chemical composition of the specific wine, grape, water,  and soil. Flavour analysis will effectively improve the quality of existing wines and facilitate new wine development by adjusting the recipes of ingredients and optimizing manufacturing procedures.